I lie about him all the time. He’s tall and demanding and in love with my words. I know the scar on his inner thigh where he was blessed by a bullet, but I have no idea what his skin feels like in the summertime. The majority of him is more than myth. I only fabricated the part that stayed, stretching the truth across the months to make believe he held me in July, when he really quit calling me in May. #30Layers30Days Day 16: “describe him”
There’s a picture on my Facebook, from my dad’s 60th birthday, of four figures grouped together on the stairs. Bee looks comfortable, her eyes closed, her head propped dependently on my shoulder, her body curled toward me. Behind us is her beau, Drew, who looks content, but isn’t smiling as hard as me, or the strapping young man leaning his weight into my lap. My arm spans across the young man’s chest. My hand finds a home just over his heart. It is exactly what it looks like: love.
I posted the photo and the vultures descended. Texts with suggestive emojis and comments expressing hurt and surprise that I would announce my relationship that way came rolling in. Imagine all the fun I had explaining to my closest acquaintances that I was not a liar, that I was still single (that if they were my actual friends, they would know this), and that I had every right to love that man without alerting the media.
He is my cousin.
What you don’t see in the picture is me, just before it was snapped, slapping my lap saying, “Yo, Ugly, come take a pic!” You don’t see his response, addressing me as Bro (get it? Like Ro, but masculine! Ha!) as he folded himself into the frame. You don’t see us in our childhood rushing from base to base in our made-up game of “Malagore.” You don’t see him ready to wreck, asking who we have to kill at even the slightest hint of my heartache. You don’t see me this September, rushing to Brooklyn when his baby died, unsure of what I would say, but certain I had to be there in person to say it. All you can see in the picture is us: my hand, his heart, and the unadulterated family love.
The fanfare over the photo was a reminder that we’re all on the same page here. I have an entire audience perched on the edge of their seats, thinking the same thing that comes to my mind whenever I stretch the truth about a mysterious ”him”: I should have been loved by now.
We started worrying about my brother when he was my age, hissing across the kitchen about his prospects, wondering what he was doing wrong, why he wasn’t dating, who we could introduce him to.
“He’s twenty fiiiive,” we would whisper. “He’s late in the game. He should be dating now. He should be finding love.” I guess Karma’s kind of a friendly ghost, as she just recently reminded me that it’s my turn to be talked about around the kitchen table, as I am just as single and seemingly hopeless as he was at 25.
I’m a real catch. I’m as great as they say I am. I’m just as smart, and gorgeous, and hilarious. I’m just as deep and talented and multifaceted. Those who have slipped through my fingers like sand were a part of the path I’m meant to tread. Most days, I’m sure of it. But I’m only a part-time optimist, so when I’m not thinking about how unfair it is that I’m this beautiful and this witty, I’m wondering if I’m such a catch, then why is noone dying to hang on to me?
I should have been loved by now.
That’s all I can think about when I see the most unlikely people canoodling with their significant others. I should have been loved by now. I should have been held and cherished and treated and trusted and partnered by now. I feel an unbearably conflicting pressure, believing I’m so wonderful, yet still so undesirable that I haven’t had one significant we-is-in-love relationship. So I stretch the truth to bridge the gap of what is and what I think should be.
I like to pretend that I don’t know any of the labels people stick to me, my love life, my sex life, my heart. I pretend I don’t know that they call me coy, sneaky, furtive, and misleading because I have nothing to report. I pretend that I didn’t perpetuate this persona of the PYT with secret prospects, just so I could give my love life some semblance of flavor. I pretend that it doesn’t hurt, that it doesn’t always bring me to the same cold conclusion that something is deeply, intrinsically wrong with me. That I am the reason that I haven’t been loved by now.